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Centre of African Studies: People


Kenneth King

Kenneth King
Professor Kenneth King
Professor Emeritus
Edinburgh UK
+44 (0)1875 340 418

Biographical Background

Kenneth King was the Director of the Centre of African Studies and Professor of International and Comparative Education at the University of Edinburgh till September 2005. He spent a year in the University of Hong Kong, 2006/7 as Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Schools of Education, and of Arts. He is now Emeritus Professor in the School of Education and also of Social and Political Sciences. Much earlier he had taught at the University of Nairobi, and for four years he was seconded to Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa. From 1992 till 2005, his wife, Pravina, was the administrator of the Centre of African Studies, and was responsible for initiating the Centre’s African Scholarship and for the organisation of Scotland Africa ’97.

Research Interests

Kenneth’s research interests over the years have focused on the history and politics of education, skills development in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy and on aid policy towards all sub-sectors of education, including higher education. He has researched the small scale Jua Kali enterprises in Kenya over a 20 year period. His current research is on China-Africa cooperation in human resource development, especially in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa. He is also coordinating research on skills-and-poverty reduction in Ghana, India and Pakistan.

Key Activities

He has edited for over 20 years an aid policy bulletin, called NORRAG NEWS (free on line at, which looks critically at education and training issues in the developing country and donor agency worlds.

He was a founder member of and is now a Trustee of the UK Forum on International Education and Training (UKFIET). This organises the biennial UKFIET international education conference in Oxford.

For the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), he is convenor of its Working Group for Co-operation in Training. 

With Michel Carton (IHEID, Geneva) he has convened and chaired the donor Working Group on International Co-operation on Skills Development for 13 years (

Major Monograph Publications

PanAfricanism and Education Oxford Studies in African Affairs, Clarendon, Oxford, 1971.

Pan-Africanism from Within, co-author with T Ras Makonnen, Oxford University Press, Nairobi 1972.

The African Artisan, Education and the Informal Sector, Heinemann, London, 1977.

Aid and Education in the developing world: the role of donor agencies in educational analysis, Longman, Harlow 1991.

Jua Kali Kenya: change and development in an informal economy 1970-1995, James Currey, London. 1996.

With Simon McGrath, Globalisation, enterprise and knowledge: education, training and development in Africa, Symposium Books, Oxford, 2002.

with Simon McGrath, Knowledge for development? Comparing British, Japanese, Swedish and World Bank aid, Zed Books, London, 2004.

With Palmer, Wedgwood, Hayman, and Thin, Educating out of poverty? A synthesis report on Ghana, India, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Africa, DFID Researching the Issues Series No.70. DFID: London, 2007.

With Robert Palmer, Planning technical and vocational skills development, Fundamentals in Educational Planning, IIEP, Paris, forthcoming 2009/2010.

He has edited 30 other volumes and more than a 100 scholarly articles. He has supervised more than 40 completed doctoral dissertations in the University of Edinburgh.

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